Thursday, June 5, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Thursday's Game 1
- Spread: Miami plus-4.5 at San Antonio
- Moneyline: Miami (plus-170) at San Antonio (minus-200)
- Total: Over/under 199 points
- Talking Points pick: Miami plus-4.5
NBA Finals Series Exact Result Odds
- Spurs in four: 13-to-1
- Spurs in five: 5-to-1
- Spurs in six: 9-to-2
- Spurs in seven: 5-to-2
- Heat in four: 18-to-1
- Heat in five: 8-to-1
- Heat in six: 4-to-1
- Heat in seven: 6-to-1
- Talking Points pick: Spurs in seven
Game 1 Player Over/Unders
- Tim Duncan points: 17.5
- Manu Ginobli points: 14.5
- Kawhi Leonard points: 13.5
- Boris Diaw points: 9
- LeBron James points: 27.5
- Dwyane Wade points: 19.5
- Chris Bosh points-plus-rebounds: 20.5
- Talking Points pick: Chris Bosh over 20.5 points-plus-rebounds
- All numbers come from the LVH Superbook.
The betting market has fallen into a dangerous habit of underestimating the San Antonio Spurs.
The team that’s taken four of the past 15 NBA Championships is a perennially strong bet during the regular season, having posted winning records against the spread in four of the past five years. The tendency to doubt San Antonio drifted beyond a game-to-game affliction this year, however, and also into future odds.
After coming within seconds of beating the Miami Heat for last year’s NBA title, the Spurs opened the season at 8-to-1 to win the 2014 championship at the LVH Superbook. That was higher odds than three teams — the Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls — and tied with a fourth in the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Spurs, well, spurred though in finishing with the best regular-season record in the NBA to make themselves the plus-125 (risking $1 to win $1.25) favorite to come out of the Western Conference. The Heat were appropriately the chalk of the Eastern Conference side six weeks ago when the postseason began at minus-250 (risking $2.50 to win $1).
For the first time since the Celtics and Lakers in 2008, the two pre-playoff Vegas favorites clash in the finals starting at 6 tonight in San Antonio. Oddsmakers had ample time to pore over the matchup given the two teams’ standing, and were asked about the potential rematch series more than any other possible finals combination.
The consensus was that, with home court advantage, the Spurs would come in as a slight favorite at somewhere around minus-125 to minus-150. So what’s there to make of the LVH Superbook and other shops around town going with a pick’em, minus-110 on both sides, when Miami vs. San Antonio had to officially go up on the betting board?
A sensible first idea would be that the Heat closed in on the gap the Spurs created during the regular season with a stronger showing so far in the playoffs. The evidence doesn’t necessarily contradict the theory, as Miami has gone 12-4 straight-up and 11-5 against the spread in the postseason to San Antonio’s 12-6 straight-up and 9-9 against the spread.
But the Spurs have also faced much stronger opposition on their way to the finals, and put up a scoring differential of plus-8 per game. That’s a whole point better than the Heat’s.
The reason for the Spurs’ shorter-than-expected price might not be the result of bettors’ hesitance or playoff performance at all, but rather, the age-old issue of health. The Heat may own the tag as the oldest team in the NBA, but they enter the final series seemingly in better shape than the slightly younger Spurs.
San Antonio insists the ankle that forced point guard Tony Parker to miss the final half of their last game against Oklahoma City is fine, but sports books are exercising caution. Parker’s name was conspicuously absent on the Superbook’s list of Game 1 player proposition wagers.
That’s quite the contrast with Miami’s best player, LeBron James, whom bettors could find props on everything except for whether his headband falls off if looking hard enough. The Superbook has James’ over/under point total at 27.5 and his assists-plus-rebounds at 13.5 for Game 1.
Dwyane Wade’s creaky knees nearly doomed Miami against San Antonio last season, but he seems healthier going into this series. His point total is over/under 19.5 for Game 1.
The Spurs closed as underdogs in all but one game of last year’s finals, which isn’t bound to repeat. They’re 4.5-point favorites in Game 1, indicating something drastic would have to occur for Miami to ever give points at the AT&T Center. It’s worth noting San Antonio opened minus-3.5, but steam fired the spread higher.
Gamblers may have come around on the Spurs after all.